Sample: Chapter 1
Mia’s muscles tense, bulging veins pulse violently beneath her skin, her eyes widen, and her grimacing teeth are bared. She squirms and roars, staring bitterly up at Dumont. He smiles and leans in close to her face. So close that the prodigious funk of rot that makes his decaying teeth blacken stirs up the contents in her stomach almost provoking her morning sickness.
“Get off of me!” Mia yells.
Bound to her bed, she tries to be brave with Dumont crouched over her. His eyes, big and dark, like looking into an endless pit to nowhere. As she stares at them, a coldness comes over her. She shivers as his gaze tugs at her soul. He binds her hands and feet with only a thought. A tear trickles down Mia’s face as he strokes her small bulging belly.
“They are already so powerful,” he says excitedly. “You will allow me one of them or I will kill both of them, Mia.”
Dumont runs his sharp fingernails across her stomach. She flinches as they rip through the top layer of her flesh. He grins. For a long moment, he gazes at her. His expression calm, yet unnerving.
“Your lack of fear is admirable.”
He smirks. Mia’s eyes squint. The hatred that fills her glare causes Dumont’s smile to grow.
“My children will never…”
She is harshly silenced as he places his hand over her mouth. He bites his free wrist, drawing blood. Mia squirms. He squeezes the back of her jaws, opening her mouth. The moment his blood hits her teeth, she trembles. Dumont climbs off her.
“I will claim every mind and slay every innocent around you until I get what I want. The people in any city you try to hide in will pay for your selfishness. You have one month to make your decision or I will make it for you. Hiding is not an option, Mia. We are now connected. I will always find you.”
“Kill me now! I will never give you my babies,” Mia growls.
“I thought you’d say that. Look out your door,” he says vanishing.
Mia jumps from her bed and scrambles to the front doorway. A ghastly paleness spreads over her face and guilt almost stops her heart.
For a long moment, her eyes rest on the bodies of her neighbors, lying in the street. Slowly she steps out onto her porch. She tries to turn away, not wanting to see any more of Dumont’s destruction, but her eyes force her to be witness to the devastating massacre. Blood painted the grass and pavements, stretching throughout the entire village. Every home for miles is in flames. All livestock and animals have been killed, and every person is dead—apart from a circle of men that assemble around one man. Mia gasps.
Chris clenches his jaws, holding in his screams as he is drained of his strength and beaten by angry men. With each blow Chris inhales, taking shallow breaths. The harsh pulses of pain that radiates throughout his body soon brings only numbness, making his undeserved punishment bearable. The town Sheriff, Kraven Moss, stands nearby laughing. His heavy chuckle gets louder each time Chris is struck.
“No! Stop!” Mia shouts, racing down her porch steps with her spike.
“Mia, no! Stay back. The ruby! Run!” Chris yells beneath the crowd that pounds at him with sticks and metal bars.
Mia reluctantly goes back into the house.
“Stop!” Kraven yells, walking toward Chris.
The men make a path, allowing Kraven to easily make eye contact with Chris. Kraven grips the ruby stone he wears around his neck and grins. Chris gets to his knees, wiping the blood from his mouth and holding his left rib cage. His brows pull down, making crinkle lines on his forehead. His eyes are bursting with an overwhelming focus on everything Kraven might do, and his heart beats quickly as each of Kraven's strides gets closer. He clenches his fist tightly, digging his fingernails into his palms. The anger in his stare draws Kraven to a fear-filled halt. Chris can feel Kraven’s uneven heart palpitations as he tries to gather the courage to come closer. Chris’ eyes glow brightly for a moment. Kraven flinches. Chris grins. Kraven quickly gathers his composure and pretends that his excessive sweating is caused by the temperature.
“It’s warm out here, isn’t it?” he asks wiping his forehead.
The silence that surrounds him assures him he is fooling no one with his act. He adjusts his pants and continues to approach Chris.
“Have you heard the tales of Angels that live here on earth? Yeah, you know the stories well—don’t you? They say that some of you gifted could be them. But me—I don’t believe that. I have killed many gifted and noticed nothing angelic about them. What do you say, Chris? Are you an almighty blessed warrior?” Kraven asks getting close to Chris’ face. Chris’ expressions intensify. “No. You are nothing. Those are just ridiculous myths. A story created to make you feel as important as the rest of us. I really don’t understand the boss’ fascination with you people.”
“You know I’m going to kill you, don’t you?” Chris whispers.
Again, trying to hide his fear, Kraven laughs and grabs Chris’ face. Nose to nose Kraven glares at Chris then again smiles widely.
“You so-called gifted are impostors to humanity and I will find all of you. All of you are nothing but rabid animals and I will put you down,” Kraven whispers.
“Why is it you know nothing about the people you are so willing to kill? You call us impostors? That’s funny coming from you. Sadly, for you, I am no gifted,” Chris says.Kraven’s eyes grow wide.“But you know this—don’t you? I can see it in your cowardly stare. If you are so sure Szion or Angels don’t exist, then why do you wear that ruby?” Chris asks.
Kraven releases Chris’ face and takes a few steps back.
“Take a deep breath, Chris. It will be your last!” Kraven raises his blade high. Chris closes his eyes and laughs, creating a numbing panic through Kraven. Chris twirls the ruby in his hand and stands. Eyes widen and hearts pound heavily. The men that moments ago, so viciously brutalized Chris, now stand rooted to the ground, petrified. Kraven drops his sword and his eyes plead for mercy.
“You have a secret you hide from your loyal followers, don’t you, Sheriff?” Chris asks, circling Kraven.
He squeezes the stone, cracking it enough to weaken Kraven.
“Your leader has not been honest with you. Only a Szion or a demon can control the power of a ruby. So, I bet you men are wondering which of the two, brave Kraven is. You look for demons within this village, killing innocent people when the true monster is hidden within your group.”
Chris grabs Kraven’s sword. His eyes turn bright white and his fangs drop from his gums. The men gasp and inch away. Chris sternly looks at each face. Each man more terrified than the next.
“Why is the stone not working anymore?” Kraven’s voice trembles.
“This stone is activated by its owner’s strength. Your fear weakens you. You want to show these men, beasts, and monsters, yet you hide within their world, pretending to be loyal to their god—acting as if you are one of them.”
Chris stares at Kraven waiting to hear the lie that would come from his mouth. Kraven’s bottom lip quivers and his eyes dart from place to place looking for a way to escape the death he knows is coming.
“I am just doing what…”
“I know. You do as you’re told. You are nothing but Dumont’s puppet.”
Chris’ words sting. Kraven frowns.
“I am no one’s puppet. I deserve this life!” He yells.
“Reveal yourself,” Chris says in a soft tone.
Kraven shakes his head.
“Reveal yourself!” Chris’ growl echoes.
Kraven flinches, his eyes turn orange and his skin black. The men that follow him gasp and step away. Both fear and confusion linger on their faces.
“Run! Tell everyone. Szion exist and your demons and monsters are most likely the ones leading you.”
Chris shatters the stone and swings the sword, removing the Kraven’s head. Still frozen with fear the men don’t move. Chris turns toward them again.
“Run!” he growls.
The men scatter. Chris races to Mia, who now stands on her porch.
“Are you Okay?” Mia nods.
“Your family?” she asks.
Tears run down Chris’ cheeks.
“Clair got away. She’s alone. I must find her before more of Dumont’s goons do. You need to leave. It's not safe here. I will send for Noah. He will find you.”
Mia sobs as he walks away. A war only Szion knew was coming sweeps over the world like a tidal wave. Victory seemed impossible and for the first-time humans were not the Szion’s first priority. Szion fear that life as they know—could soon be over. They are afraid that the stories about them have dwindled to only myths, they too were rapidly ceasing to exist. Soon their kind would be distant memories. Stories told by the elderly that no one believes.
Eight weeks later:
Mia screams. A flash of light strikes her chest, slamming her into the far wall of her house. Blood spills from her mouth and nose. She stumbles back to her feet and charges the blinding Lights that brutally assault her and her husband.
Mia and Noah fight, ready to give their lives to protect their newborn twins. As Mia thrusts her spike through a Light, splattering black sludge all over her living room furniture, she glances over at Noah and simpers. Even in the midst of battle, Noah feels her gaze and smiles.
“Will it be tonight?” She questions telepathically.
Noah’s grin widens as he rips his spike from one Light and pushes it into another.
“Not tonight. It will not be Light that kills us. That I promise you,” he says spinning and stabbing a Light behind Mia.
Side by side, they stand, waiting for more Light to enter their home. Intense pain ripples through Mia, shooting pressure into her insides. She falls to the floor, gripping her stomach.
“The girls!” she yells.
Noah rushes into his twins’ room to find black smoke lingering around the cribs. He throws his spike at the Shadow slipping out the window. Terror claws at his heart. He walks over to the cribs, in a mere second his entire world becomes crippling and he falls to his knees. Mia walks in, a thick congestion of dread sits on her chest. She stops in the center of the room and weeps. Breathing is hard, her insides quiver, and she is wrapped in a chill of emptiness.
“Noah,” she whispers.
Noah looks up at her from the floor. His tear-filled eyes confirm her disturbing assumptions.
“No! Not my babies!” she cries.
Noah looks to the floor. A low whimper comes from one of the cribs and Mia races toward the cry. She pulls back the blanket that covers the infant and smiles. Mia lifts her baby in her arms and kisses her. She looks at the other crib and again weakens at the emptiness that takes the place of her child.
“I will find her, Mia,” Noah says, standing to his feet.
Mia nods. She places a kiss on her baby's head and hands her to Noah.
“He will come for her. My connection with him is too strong. It will be me that leads them to her. Noah, take her away from here. Keep her far from me. Make sure no one can sense her. Not… not even me,” Mia begs, looking into Noah’s bloodshot eyes.
Noah reluctantly nods.
“We tried,” she whispers.
Tears drench her face as she kisses her infant’s hand. Noah nods.
“We failed,” he says.
Mia’s heartbreak shoots through him like bullets. She wipes her cheeks and shakes her head.
“Not yet. You didn’t fail. You keep our little girl safe, no matter what, you keep her safe,” Mia says, struggling to keep more tears from forming in her eyes.
Noah nods and kisses her. Before she can say goodbye, Noah vanishes with their child. Mia falls to the floor and grabs her chest. Each heartbeat causes a stinging pain as she is hit with the realization the she’s lost everyone important to her in one single moment.
Twenty-one years later
“Time is closing in on us. I need more strength,” Dumont says.
“What can I do, Father?” Aria asks.
“Take me somewhere. Where are the strongest of the gifted? Take me there!” he orders.
Aria smirks and nods. They travel for days to a royal palace in England. Dumont smiles when he notices the power of the many energies that race from place to place within the castle.
“There are royals here, Father. They are the strongest of the gifted,” Aria says.
“I can feel that. Prepare for my introduction. Be sure the strongest are saved for me,” Dumont says, climbing out of his car.
Aria and several Light ambush the castle guards, killing them without them knowing they were being attacked. Following the trail of bodies, Dumont strolls into a gilded room. The walls are made of pure stone with flakes of silver and gold. Rays of light fall through the high open windows to the gorgeous, porcelain tiled floor. Aria smiles proudly at her collection of gifted that struggle to break free from her mind’s hold. Among the small group of prisoners, King Alastair and his son Silas stand near the royal table unsure of what to do.
“What do you want? Who are you?” The King shouts.
Dumont laughs. He gives a slight bow.
“Good evening, Your Highness. I am Dumont.”
“What is going on here? Why are you doing this to us?” Alastair asks.
He tries hard to steady his trembling voice. He stands by his son’s side nervously ready for a fight.
“I apologize for this rude intrusion, but I’ve come to ask for the help of only the strongest of you gifted.”
“You kill my family and then expect us to willingly help you?” Prince Silas shouts.
Dumont smiles and runs his fingers over his gray, bushy mustache. “Willingly? Well, it would have made this easier. How old are you, boy?” Dumont asks.
“I am no boy!” Silas snaps.
Dumont’s grin widens.
“Boy? You will address my son as he is, a prince!” King Alastair barks.
Aria punches him in the jaw and he falls to his knees. Silas lifts his father back to his feet and glares at Aria, then turns his attention back to Dumont.
“What do you want? It’s obvious you’re not after money. What did you come for? Is it the key?” Silas asks.
“Key? What key?” Dumont questions.
“No, Silas!” Alastair begs.
“Uh—the key to the safe,” Silas quickly answers.
“Prince Silas, you know—you shouldn’t lie,” Dumont says strolling closer, threateningly.
His face now inches from Silas’.
“No matter. I will know soon enough.” Dumont backs away and takes a stroll around the room.“This is a very nice place. It could use some minor changes, but still very nice. This will make an amazing home for my daughter and I. Look at her, wouldn’t she make the prettiest princess?” Dumont says, sitting at the royal table in the King’s chair.
“Take what you want and leave!” Alastair says, dabbing the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand.
“I need a body. Mine—well, it's aging too fast. I just haven’t decided which out of the bunch of you I will claim.” Dumont says.
A harsh sigh rings in Dumont’s ears bring his attention to the King.
“You’re demons, aren’t you? The ones we’ve heard about?” he asks.
“Demons? That is what you’ve named us?”
“That is the name of evil. Beings from the Dark World,” Silas replies.
“Dark World, huh? We aren’t from any Dark World, but I can’t deny the evil tendencies. I can say this, no matter how horrible your Bible says the demons that roam this world are—I am much worse!” Dumont says in a terrifying tone.
“Release my people and my son, and I will grant you permission to have my body. All this will be yours,” Alastair says bravely.
“I don’t need your permission. All of this will be mine anyway. I’ve already decided which body I will claim,” Dumont replies.
Silas’ eyes dim, he looks over at his father, his heart rate increases ever so slightly, but he shows no fear.
“It's me. You will take me. I will not fight,” Silas says.
Dumont grins again and stands. He casually walks over to the two of them.
“No!” Alastair begs.
“I beg of you, Sir Dumont if no one else… let my father live,” Silas pleads.
“Sorry kid, this kingdom can’t be run by two kings,” Dumont declares, snapping the king’s neck with a wave of his finger. As if every muscle in his body weakens at one time Silas falls to the floor the moment his father’s body dies. Dumont gives Aria a nod and in seconds, bodies drop all around the prince. He weeps silently, trying to be strong as he watches Dumont steal his people’s life force with one deep inhale. Dumont gestures with his hand for Silas to stand. Uncontrollably Silas stands. Bewitched by Dumont’s power Silas cannot move. Defeat rushes over him, tears trickle down his cheeks and he closes his eyes, preparing for Dumont to invade his body. A deep warmth and then a chill runs through him. Dumont’s old body drops to the floor. He twirls with excitement within Silas’ body. He races to Aria and lifts her off her feet with a bear hug.
“You do understand what this means, don’t you? This boy was no mere gifted, he was a guard. A guard for the Dark World. A world I never knew existed. Oh, this is going to be fun. Did the gods really think I wouldn’t find out about this?” Dumont laughs. “Once you find Nora, I will have everlasting life and we will have everything. Can you do that for me, darling? Can you find her?”Aria nods.
“I will find her, Father.”
Dumont grabs her hands.
“I know you will, sweetheart. Go—Go pick out your room.”
Aria races off excitedly.